Uninstall a hard-to-remove piece of software

Before you try to manually remove a program, make sure there’s no uninstaller. Check the Start menu. If the Start menu contains a submenu for the unwanted program, there’s likely a link to the uninstaller there.

You should also check Windows’ own list of uninstallers. Select Start(Start>Run in XP), type appwiz.cpl, and press ENTER. You’ll findall the uninstallers that Windows knows about in alphabetical order.

You should also try Googling the name of the unwanted program and theword uninstall.

If none of these pan out, you’re going to have to remove the programmanually. Here’s how:

Getting started
1) Create a systemrestore point. See Howto Create a Restore Point if you need instructions.

2) Boot into Safe Mode.Reboot your PC. Just before Windows loads,press F8 (you may need to try this several times to get the timingright). At the resulting, ugly, text-based menu screen, use yourkeyboard’s arrow keys and Enter key to select Safe Mode. Then waituntil it loads.

3) Find the path to theprogram folder. If there’s a shortcut to theprogram on your Start menu or the desktop, right-click that shortcutand select Properties. The path is everything in the Target fieldexcept the file name. For instance, if the Target field says C:\ProgramFiles\Bricked Software\ErodeCode.exe, the path is C:\ProgramFiles\Bricked Software.

The path is also likely the entire contents of the “Start in” field.

If you don’t find a shortcut, go to C:\Program Files and look for theappropriate folder. Check C:\Program Files (x86), as well, if your PChas that folder.

4) Delete the programfolder. In Windows Explorer, go to the pathyou’ve just identified, then go up one level. For instance, if the pathis C:\Program Files\Bricked Software, you want C:\Program Files. Selectthe unwanted program’s folder, press the Delete key, and confirm thechange.

Clean, delete, reboot.
5) Clean the Registry.You’ll want to remove all references to theprogram from the Registry. The free CCleanerwill likley do the job. If you don’t already have it installed, you maywant to use CCleanerPortable, which doesn’t require installation.

Whichever version you use, click the Registry icon in the left panel,then click Scan for Issues. When the scan is complete, click Fixselected issues. And yes, you do want to back up changes to theRegistry.

6) Delete the shortcuts.Do this wherever they may be–the Start menu,the desktop, and so on.

7) Reboot.You’ve removed the program.

Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology andcinema. Email your tech questions to him at answer@pcworld.com, or post them to a community ofhelpful folks on the PCWAnswer Line forum.Follow Lincoln on Twitter, or subscribe to the AnswerLine newsletter,e-mailed weekly.

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